by Jim Stirling
Research Fellow, John Locke Foundation
On Monday, March 7th, we discussed the competitive primary of two Republican leaders in the western part of the state: Senators Ralph Hise (R) v. Dianna Ballard (R). We analyzed the new Senate District 47 that pits these incumbents against one another by comparing how much their old and new districts overlap. Now we turn our attention to the other senate election that pits two incumbents against one another, this time in the eastern part of the state. Senators Bob Steinburg (R) & Norman Sanderson (R) have both filed for the new Senate District 1, which encompasses Dare, Hyde, Carteret, Pamlico, Washington, Chowan, Perquimans, and Pasquotank counties.
To compare both Senators Name ID in the new Senate District One we measured the portion of their old districts in the new one based on total population, voting-age population, and potential Republican primary voters. That overlap population is factored at the precinct level and only counts the part of the old district that remains in the new district. We calculated Republican primary voters the same way we run the Civitas Partisan Index (CPI), taking statewide elections and averaging the elections out. The elections we used for these calculations were the statewide 2020 Republican primary elections for US Senate, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Commissioner of Labor, Commissioner of Insurance, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Auditor.
Both Senators have represented parts of eastern North Carolina for nearly a decade, having both served terms in both the House and the Senate. Steinburg chairs the Prison Safety, the Appropriations General Government, and the State and local government committees. Sanderson chairs the Appropriations on Agriculture, Natural, and Economic Resources, the Judiciary, and the Agriculture, Energy, and Environment committees. There are no challengers in the general election for Senate District One, so the winner of this primary will be the Senator for the district for the next two years.
While Steinburg’s old district holds a significantly larger population of the new district, it does not have an advantage when it comes to Republican Primary voters. Sanderson has the advantage in GOP primary votes, mainly due to Carteret County. Carteret held 10,180 GOP primary voters based on 2020 Republican primary data, nearly five times as many voters as Pasquotank County, which is Steinberg’s largest current county for GOP primary voters. This does not cement Sanderson’s victory in the May primary but does indicate that he has a strong advantage in name ID in the new district.